I have a mentor with a great sense of humor. She said “Why is it written in the Holy Quran, that you must take care of your parents without a single ‘uff’ from your side? – (He never said that for taking care of your children!) Because He knows, your parents will create situations which will make you want to exclaim!” And then she went into peals of laughter. It doesn’t mean the kids won’t be difficult. It means we don’t mind them being difficult. Then, why can’t we be more patient for our parents who have already shown their great love for us?
Of course, nothing in easy. Our kids often drive us up the wall. But we take pride in them. Our parents are the only persons on earth who will always love us unconditionally. How could we be short with them?
Whether, its your own parents or parents of your spouse, believe me, your home will receive amazing blessings while they’re there. So, when the situation arises, its best to have the parents in your home, rather than you being in theirs. Its your own domain in your control, then its easier to take care of them.
Here are some points that come to my mind to help in taking care of elderly parents:
Plan their rooms with care:
- Make it free of obstructing furniture. The seats of chairs and sofas need to be firm yet soft, and not too low.
- The colors need to be pleasing and preferably in pastels.
- Try to have their own personal belongings in their room. Put up familiar and favorite pictures on the walls.
- Have a television there if needed.
- Make sure the lamps and wiring are placed appropriately.
- The temperature of the room must be comfortable during all seasons.
- Make sure there is fresh air circulation at least for a few hours a day.
- Likewise, their washroom must be well lit, and not slippery. You can get a chair designed for sitting on during a shower, to avoid slipping. Also make sure rest of bathroom doesn’t get wet, by putting glass sliding doors in shower area. Put handles on walls of washroom wherever you feel it is needed.
- Have helpers, but make surprise checks. Train them well, value and appreciate their efforts. Motivate them. But never fully trust them. If you are a working person, install cameras, and check on your mobile phone. (As you do for your babies.)
- Make personal visits three to four times a day. Have at least one meal with them on a daily basis.
- Involve them in old and new interests. Books, newspapers, gardening, watching dramas or movies, going for walks or picnics. Take them for drives.
- Watch their wardrobe. Getting them seasonal clothes. Have clothes which are easy to put on, preferably without help. Manage their clothes, so these are placed easy to reach. Have them wearing new and stylish clothes too.
- Encourage family members to come and visit them. Be careful the visitors do not overstay and tax your parent’s energy. Make sure your parents are keeping up with their own routine of sleep etc. in spite of the visits or even outings.
- Your parents routine must not be changed due to your own change of routine. Leave instructions with helpers that their routine and specially timings for meals, and other activities must be followed diligently, at all times.
- Take them on outings. Have outings in their waking times, do not stress them by taking them out for too long.
- Get all required latest equipment for them – whether it is for caring, or entertaining them.
- Let them remain financially independent. It is vital for them to have full control of their own finances. They should have full liberty to use their own money the way they want. Specially when they want to give charity or sadqa.
- Share jokes of Facebook or YouTube related to their interests with them. Maintain a light, happy environment in your home. Jokes and laughter must be the norm in their environment.
- Avoid saying or doing things that clash with their opinions. (I know it’s hard.)
- They need to be surrounded with familiar things of their own times: As much as possible use their own furniture, pictures, medals, linen and books etc. in their room.
- Celebrate their birthdays and religious events with great zest.
- Exercise is a must. Do not let any opportunity for activity pass by. Let them be as independent as possible. Encourage them to do everything themselves, no matter how long it takes. It is OK. Find the ‘Zumba for seniors’ (to match their age group) – on YouTube- and see if you can help them with it.
- Give them nourishing foods to eat like fruit, meats, nuts and soups. Get home delivery of their favorite foods also. Take them on outings for special dinners too.
- Take them to specialist doctors regularly. Keep their papers files and folders in order. Make notes on the prescriptions etc. if needed. Put follow up on alarms in your own mobile phone.
- Avoid giving them too many medications. Encourage only supplements and provide healthy foods. Most doctors prescribe medication to turn them into zombies for easier caring. Why be cruel on them? Cant we ‘normal’ folks take care of our own parents? Sometimes if they are having delusions or bouts of dementia, just take them for a drive, and divert them. Similarly, they will have bouts of clear and normal thinking also. There will be incontinence too, how did they deal when we were like that as children? There are facilities of all types available now. So, lets be patient and give them a wonderful time (with least medications) in the twilight of their lives.
- Take care of their legal interests and financial concerns. Have their paper work in order.
- We should involve them in our lives – not discard them, just let them feel useful without putting any heavy responsibility on them. If easily possible, they can take responsibilities in the home too. Let them take on some expenses in household management also, if they feel like it. If they gift you something fine. Otherwise, doing any amount for them is a privilege for us.
- Involve your children in caring for your parents. Give them responsibilities in caring for them. This process must not be alian but familiar to them. This will be a joy for your parents and their grand children too. Let them spoil them if it makes them happy. Its part of the bonding process. I remember Uzma, (Imran Khan’s youngest sister) saying, “I let my father spoil my children with chocolates and sweets, after all they can get new teeth, but where can they get a doting grandfather?”
- Pursue your own interests in your life. It is very important for you to pursue your own interests and interaction with your own friends also. This will give your parents some space also. You need to take care of yourself, as you care for your parents. If you do this right from the beginning, they won’t mind it. They will just accept it. They love you and will understand. Your own happiness and well being is as important as theirs. Otherwise, your attitude may not be very nice towards them, as if your life is getting stifled due to caring for them. It is up to you to do whatever you do is with love and in a pleasant manner.
- Patience is the most important factor in their care, just as they had when we were small. Now, it is our turn to show our patience and loving care.
- Give them plenty of love, as love conquers all.
Stay blessed my dear reader, enjoy yours or your spouse’ parents company. Their prayers will surely protect you all your life.